All About Pressure Washer Hoses
I have heard pressure washer hoses referred to as lifelines and umbilical cords to a pressure washing system. These terms are a bit dramatic but at any rate hoses are an important component in a properly matched pressure washing system.
A good pressure washer hose is the same design principle as a hydraulic hose. The basic construction is as follows:
1. The inner core – This is the inner core in which the water actually flows.
2. Wire wrap – This is the wire wrapper that surrounds the inner core and protects it from damage. This wrap is in a braided configuration which allows the hose to bend freely while having ample protection. Most Hoses under 4500 psi ratings have single wire wraps and are referred to as “single wire or R-1” hoses. Hoses designed for psi ratings of 5,000 or above and hoses designed for hot water use have two wire braids and are referred to as “2-wire or R-2” hoses.
3. Outer Cover – The best covers are rubber, thermoplastic covered hoses are widely used on pressure washers that are designed to be sold at a cheap price. If quality is important to you I would be skeptical of machines that are sold with a thermoplastic hose as standard.
Exception: The most notable exception is in the case of sewer jetting. In this case the pressure washer is designed to unblock and clean sewer lines. For this application 1/4″ and 1/8″ thermoplastic hoses are an advantage due to their ability to make extreme bends within pipes.
The standard size for pressure washer hoses is 3/8″OD (outside diameter) This is because the vast majority of pressure washers are rated between 3-5 gallons per minute flow rates. If your system exceeds a flow rate of 5gpm or if you are planning on using more than 100′ of hose continuously then consider 1/2″OD hose. This is especially important if you own one of the best gas power washers as these units can create huge amounts of concentrated pressure.
Many lesser pressure washers of dubious quality market pressure washers with 1/4″ thermoplastic covered hoses in 25′ lengths. For me this has always been a tipoff to investigate quality issues further prior to any purchase.
Standard quality hoses come in 50 ft lengths.
TIP: If you are planning to use 100 ft or more hose continuously don’t buy a 100 ft hose, buy two or more 50 ft hoses and link them together the reason being that if a hose goes bad or wears out you can keep working and you don’t lose an extremely expensive hose.
A black or red rubber hose can leave marks on surfaces, this can be a concern when pressure washing roof tiles or when doing flat work on concrete. In these cases use blue or gray covers these do not leave marks and are referred to as “non-marking hose”. Yellow coverings are typically made so that the hose is more resistant to the effects of oil, grease, and animal fats these are often used in rendering plants and other industrial applications. Just make sure you buy the proper pressure washer detergent when working around plants.
If you are working at heights, remember that all the weight of the pressure washer hoses when filled with water can be pulling on the hose fitting The best manufacturers sell pressure washer hoses that are skived before coupling. Skiving means the outside rubber cover is partially removed to allow the metal fitting to be crimped to the wire braiding of the hose. This process provides a solid metal to metal solution with good strength.
I have had excellent results from pressure washer hoses manufactured by Gates, Schieffer, and Goodyear I am currently interested in hoses marketed by Envirospec, they call these serpentine hoses and the prices look pretty good. While I have never used these hoses I trust Envirospecs’ technical competence and will be giving them a try soon.
I have had bad experiences with Goodyear hoses manufactured in China. These are imported by a Canadian company and sold in the U.S. through their dealer networks. Don’t get me wrong, I heartily endorse Goodyear hoses just make sure they are made in the good old U.S.A..
Final tip: Try to buy hoses rated about 500 psi higher than your system requirements they will last much longer and you will have a better experience.